Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ringing Out, Ringing In

It's hard for me to believe that A Manly Pastime will reach its third anniversary in February.  The blog began because it seemed to be the best way to start writing about 19th New Jersey base ball.  With minimal forethought, it then expanded into describing the adventures and misadventures of the Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club seasoned with related historical reflections.  Other topics also found their way on to the "page," especially Brooklyn Dodger history and, more recently, second looks at what well known players considered to be their "greatest day in baseball."  All of this along with an interest in doing more work on the early days of the pre-professional period made it only natural to modify the blog's subtitle, formalizing both the expanded interests and possible future changes.

Article from the Jersey City Daily Sentinel of September 9, 1856, noting that two-thirds of the Eagle Club of New York's lineup in an upcoming match were originally members of Jersey City's first two base ball clubs

Earlier in 2014, in response to some compliments about a series of posts, I explained I was doing a lot of research and the more research, the more blog content.  Most of that work  was concentrated on working my way through all the extant 19th Century New Jersey newspapers.  It was a big job, made significantly simpler due to the large number of weekly newspapers and the high percentage held at Rutgers' Alexander Library.  The research not only confirmed how the game spread throughout the state's 21 counties between 1855 and 1870, but also generated most of the aforementioned blog content.  Much of the data has been entered on the Protoball web site and a goal for 2015 is to finish entering at least all of the club names. Reflecting on this especially in light of the recent SABR symposium on 19th century base ball in the greater New York area has made further study of the 1845-1860 period a future priority.  While that work will still have a heavy New Jersey focus, looking at greater New York as a region is, I believe, extremely important.

Rare box score from the Elizabeth Daily Mercury of July 29, 1869 of a match between two African-American Clubs.  

A subset of this is continued emphasis on African-American clubs through at least 1870.  To say original source material is scarce, is a vast understatement, but some combination of hard work and hard thinking should shed further light on the subject.  Coverage of the Neshanock will resume earlier in 2015 as I understand opening day had been pushed back into March (brr!).I'm also far from done with "My Greatest Day in Baseball," as there are a number of entries from the Deadball Era that merit further attention.  The entries in all three editions, of what was for me a foundational base ball history book, were originally published in the Chicago Daily News.  At some point, I'd love to take a look at the paper in some detail especially to see if there were more articles than the roughly 60 that were incorporated into book form.  To my knowledge, the papers is not available online, but regardless, it's not something I will get to in 2015.

Charles Ebbets in his prime 

I say that with certainty because of a much larger project which will take up most of the next two years, researching and writing a full length biography of Charles Ebbets.  It's a prospect that is more than a little daunting as Ebbets' Dodger career lasted more than 40 years including more than a quarter of a century as club president and primary owner which may partially explain why there are no earlier biographies of Ebbets.  At the same time, I've been interested in Ebbets for a long time and have always wanted to try my hand (and mind) at a biography.  Now with the much appreciated faith of McFarland & Company, I'm about embark on that journey.  Ebbets' years with the Dodgers span my two favorite eras, the 19th century and the Deadball Era and offer the opportunity for an in depth look at base ball club ownership during those periods.  As an added benefit, I'm confident the Ebbets' research will provide interesting content for this blog, so stay tuned.

This is the last post of 2014 and the blog will be back around the middle of January as the batteries need some recharging.  Thanks to all those who read along throughout the year and especially those who took the time to offer feedback, comments and advice.  The first post of 2015 will focus on base ball games where the biggest meteorological concern was whether or not it would be cold enough!  Until then best wishes for the holidays and all of next year.

1 comment:

  1. always enjoy learning more about the history of the game from your extensive research efforts John. congrats on the news about the book, and see ya in the spring!